KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Every military veteran is eligible for a funeral service with full military honors, but there aren’t enough active-duty Honor Guard units to perform them. So, volunteers fill in the gap.
The Pigeon Forge Veterans Military Honor Guard saluted a fallen comrade with dignity last week. The early morning fog had not yet burned off at the East Tennessee Veterans cemetery where retired Air Force Master Sergeant Paul Robinson would be laid to rest and presented full military honors by the volunteer honor guard unit.
“It gives me a sense of pride and honor that I’m able to give back to them and their families and make it a significant meaningful event for them,” said Mike Robinson.
Retired Navy Commander Mike Robison leads the Pigeon Forge Veterans Military Honor Guard. He says his small group of retired military members, plus first responders will pay tribute to 40 or more veterans a year. At each service, a Chaplain delivers a message and comforts the family. The Pigeon Forge unit travels to many different locations.
“We do it in Sevier County, we come up to Knoxville, we do it here at this cemetery. We will do it at churches in the surrounding area,” said Mike at a service in East Knox County.
For Master Sgt Robinson’s family, the service was special.
“It’s a blessing. It was beautiful. I really appreciate the military coming out for my father,” said Draythron Robinson.
While the Pigeon Forge Veterans Military Honor Guard is small, the impact of their service is appreciated.
“I think it is really wonderful. This is maybe the second military funeral that I have witnessed. The first one wasn’t anything like this. This is a total honor. That the Honor Guards would come out and do the program and do all the presentations We appreciate it,” said Jacqueline Collins, Paul Robinson’s wife.
WATE has partnered with the Pigeon Forge Veterans Military Honor Guard and other Honor Guard units across East Tennessee for Operation Honor Guard for their annual donation drive.